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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Iran: A prisoner hanged, 3 dozen death verdicts issued in run-up to elections

The Iranian regime's henchmen in the main prison of the northern city of Gorgan secretly hanged a 52-year-old man who had been arrested on drug-related charges.

The Iranian regime's judiciary has recently confirmed death sentences for at least 40 prisoners that are being held in Gezel-Hessar Prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran. Most of the prisoners had asked for their cases to be reviewed but their death sentence were confirmed within 1-2 days and they were informed of the final verdicts on Sunday.

In the run-up to the sham elections in Iran, Iran's clerical regime has intensified issuing death sentences, handing down long prison terms and carrying out cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments in public.

Amnesty International said in its yearly report on violations of human rights in Iran: "The authorities continued to use the death penalty extensively, and carried out numerous executions, including of juvenile offenders. Some executions were conducted in public."

"Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common and was committed with impunity; prison conditions were harsh. Unfair trials continued, in some cases resulting in death sentences."

"Women and members of ethnic and religious minorities faced pervasive discrimination in law and in practice. The authorities carried out cruel punishments, including blinding, amputation and floggings. Courts imposed death sentences for a range of crimes; many prisoners, including at least 4 juvenile offenders, were executed."

"Courts continued to impose, and the authorities continued to carry out, punishments that violate the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. These were sometimes carried out in public and included flogging, blinding and amputations. On 3 March the authorities in Karaj deliberately blinded a man in his left eye after a court sentenced him to 'retribution-in-kind' (qesas) for throwing acid into the face of another man. He also faced blinding of his right eye."

Source: NCRI, Feb. 26, 2016

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